Something I have been gradually (i.e. reluctantly!) embracing here in Germany is the tradition of Carnival. These are the festivities that occur before Lent, typically with a parade, masks and costumes, excessive eating and drinking, dancing and public celebrations… It puts the British tradition of Pancake Day to shame!
While it is lots of fun to get together with friends and you do get a day off work, it’s bloody freezing outside and traditional German Carnival drinking songs leave something to be desired in my opinion! The thing is, I live in Dusseldorf which, along with its neighbour Cologne, is a hotspot for the festivities. So, having been invited to lots of parties over the past few years I’ve tried my best to leave my negativity aside, just go with the flow and have fun!
As any good Carinval-goer knows, the first thing you need is a cool costume! I initially fought my way through the hoards of frantic, last-minute costume hunters at the nearest fancy dress shop, only to find that everything was badly made of tacky materials and sold at extortionate prices. No, thank you! After recovering from this trauma, I went across the road to a second-hand shop and managed to find something infinitely better for a fraction of the price!
On this occasion, I just went in with no expectations and this suede waistcoat and skirt set, along with with a very fetching headscarf, just jumped out at me. It turned out to be a much better strategy than going shopping with my heart set on one particular thing. As a keen fancy-dresser since my uni days, I once set myself the very precise goal of hunting down a Margot Tennenbaum costume (which I would still love to find some day!), but I ended up just feeling frustrated at spotting a whole host of other potential costumes, but not the exact one I had in my head! Basically, it helps if you don’t have something too specific in mind. Then you are open for the right pieces to find you!
I just added a striped Mango top and an old pair of snug lace-up boots and my pirate look was complete. It has seen me through three years of Carnival celebrations and I still really loved wearing it last weekend! It’s nice to have an outfit that’s not made of cheap polyester or moulting fake fur, and even if there are other pirates at the party, I know my look is still unique! Plus, with a few extra layers, it makes an outdoor celebration in February seem achievable!
Maybe I could do with some rotation after three years rocking the same look… But next year I’m thinking of turning this set into a cowgirl costume. All I need a stetson and a check shirt! Yee-haw!